Ever since its discovery by Windhaus, the importance of the active metabolite of vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3
) has been ever expanding. In this review, the attention is shifted towards the importance of the extra-skeletal effects of vitamin D, with special emphasis on the immune system. The first hint of the significant role of vitamin D on the immune system was made by the discovery of the presence of the vitamin D receptor on almost all cells of the immune system. In vitro, the overwhelming effect of supra-physiological doses of vitamin D on the individual components of the immune system is very clear. Despite these promising pre-clinical results, the translation of the in vitro observations to solid clinical effects has mostly failed. Nevertheless, the evidence of a link between vitamin D deficiency and adverse outcomes is overwhelming and clearly points towards avoidance of vitamin D deficiency especially in early life.
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